Everybody’s quite worked up over the Uefa-Liverpool tiff on the behavior of Liverpool supporters at the Champions League final in Athens some 2 weeks ago.
The BBC has, as usual, done a good job of collecting the quotes from all the interested parties, so for a quick refresher go read that.
To me, the situation smacks of ridiculous stands on both sides and an argument that has turned into England vs Europe quite needlessly.
We have Richard Caborn – the sports minister – rise to defend England’s honour and laying the blame at Uefa’s feet, completely ignoring the fact that regardless of security measures, it WAS Liverpool fans who caused problems at the final, not anyone else.
Uefa are not pointing fingers – they don’t need to.
However, Uefa are to blame as well. They knew what had to be done, and yet they stupidly believed that fans would behave themselves (what world are they living in?).
So we have one side who expects fans to be angels and then is disappointed when they’re not, and the other side expecting fans to be assholes who steal tickets from children (gotta love that bit, paints a very bad picture doesn’t it) and then show indignation when someone criticises that behavior (‘yea, we’re assholes, how dare you point fingers at us! Why didn’t you get your security right!?’)
Caborn did say something sensible (unlike Parry, who was bent on quoting pointless statistics to his advantage and forgot that his club’s fans were in the wrong):
“This is about finding solutions, not looking back and saying what has happened but more about how to stop this happening in the future”
English clubs need to look at how they can prevent incidents involving their fans in Europe from happening again. Manchester United and Liverpool have both been involved this season. United, you can argue, were provoked both times and Liverpool can make the same case, but the bottom line is that both sides are to blame and if English clubs want to bring about change in Europe their fans will need to behave first.
Uefa needs to pull it’s head out of it’s ass and start dealing more strictly with stadiums / clubs involved in crowd / fan violence. Roma fans were largely responsible for the trouble in the first leg of the Man Utd – Roma quarterfinal, yet the club got a minimal fine.
Uefa also need to work with clubs and local police in preventing accidents like those at Roma, Lille, Sevilla and Athens. If European police is going to hit first and ask questions later, things will only get worse. If stadiums and match organisation is not going to prepare for extra fans and implement proper security measures, we will see more problems next season, not less.
Andy Knott (Liverpool fanzine Red All Over) spoke some sense, and some nonsense (i’m not printing the nonsense):
“It’s a culmination of everything.
The Liverpool fans weren’t innocent and a lot of them have got to have a look at themselves and take that into account.
But at the same time Uefa have got to look at it and instead of trying to give token games to people with big stadiums, they’ve got to do it in a proper way.”
17k tickets were never going to be enough. But 17k tickets weren’t the problem – unruly fans and poor organisation were to blame.
Liverpool and Uefa both must shoulder the blame, look at where they’ve gone wrong, learn from it and help football be safer for fans next season. It’s not hard to do once you commit yourself to do it and refuse to tolerate poorly-behaving fans or shoddy organisation.
And please, let’s not bring out old skeletons, shall we?
For the record, I think Liverpool fans *should* have behaved properly – excusing rowdy behavior and accepting it from the word go is disrespectful and gives people too much license – you can argue then that Roma fans were right to charge the divider and that United fans are right in acting in provocation.
And, for the record, Uefa should have done a much better job of handling this.